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Monday, October 29, 2018


From “Drawings for a Living Architecture” in a monumental volume published for the Bear Run Foundation and the Edgar J. Kaufmann Charitable Foundation by Horizon Press.

By Thomas Shess, Editor, I managed the editorial department for Ed and Gloria Self’s San Diego Magazine (founded in 1948) it amused me that so often we would have architectural students sitting in our conference room/library pouring over back issues.  Amused because what was the magazine staff still regarded current events was now history to others.  Nonetheless, it pleased us that enlightened professors would usher students in to see and read about the work of important local architects/critics. Mainly, they were there to study the published postmodern architecture that the late Editor in Chief Ed Self championed over the years, especially those penned by James Britten. 

Likewise, New Yorker magazine (founded in 1925) possesses archives rich with the history of architecture.  Just as important to the New Yorker coverage of significant world architecture is simply whom the editors chose to write those marvelous essays.

Over the summer, the New Yorker ran a retrospective of architecture articles from its archives.  Below is a link to one of those gems:

December 5, 1959 “What Wright Hath Wrought” by Lewis Mumford.  Click here for entire article.

“...It is not unusual for an architect to be a man of talent in the kindred arts of painting and sculpture; that, indeed, was almost the classic preparation for an architect in the early Renaissance, and architects like Le Corbusier have probably spent as much of their time at the easel as at the drawing board. What is unusual about Wright is that the sketches and the finished presentation drawings of his buildings are works of art in their own right, carrying his unmistakable signature. Both his crayon sketches and his plans express in the most sensitive way the exhilarating and positively liberating effect of his genius. The drawings show—sometimes more clearly even than the actual buildings—the combination of formal discipline and effulgent feeling, the union of the mechanical and the romantic, the union of the audacious engineer, enthralled by the possibilities of technology, and the highly individualized artist, that were the man himself. The color reproductions are particularly good. Wright used one of the most difficult of media, the colored crayon, as well as water color, in renderings whose handling of landscape and foliage sometimes reminds one of Dürer’s sketches, yet the drawings have a kind of architectural firmness because of the use of fine straight lines, seemingly ruled, to convey an underlying sense of geometric structure, in sky or background as well as in building. But the color, even when used to embellish the plans, remains delicately lyrical, with an early-morning freshness...”

Guggenheim Museum, New York City, October 1, 2013.  Original photo by Phyllis Shess

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